Archive for July 8th, 2022

July 8, 2022

The Château de Tours !!!

Let me right off the bat tell you that this is an older post that I am updating with new text and links using same older pictures, Therefore, let me tell you about a favorite town of mine, Tours in the Indre et Loire dept 37 of the Centre Val de Loire region and its wonderful historical castle, the Château de Tours.  This one is strictly on the history I like; but why would you visit a castle otherwise!

The Castle of Tours is right on the edge of the Loire river in the oldest district of Tours, close to the Cathedral of Saint Gatien, erected on the remains of the ancient city whose towers originates. Almost entirely destroyed in the 18C, its two remaining towers are accommodateded with a new building used by the army from the French revolution. After serving as barracks, it is in this singular configuration that it is taken from oblivion and restored in the second half of the 20C.

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This is a long history, and I will condense as much as possible so bear with me, Anyway,any questions just ask me !

The 11C initial dungeon and its dependencies were later absorbed by a quadrangular enclosure in the 13C, before a massive destruction leaving space for military buildings from the 18C onwards.   The Counts of Blois, became Viscounts then Counts of Tours, had in the 9C a residence located more to the east of the castle (tower Hugon) ,the new stone construction of the 11C is erected on the site of primitive thermal baths used until the 4C (Lower-Empire), from the time of the Gallo-Roman City of “Caesarodunum”.

Consecutively built between 1044 and 1060, it recycles the stone wall and bricks of the gallo-roman fortification of the Old City enclosure (castrum) in the corner of which it is built. This 4C wall, much thicker (4.50 m) than those of the new building (2.60 m), is already endowed with towers and gates. The château comtal located in the ancient city ,which encompasses the cathedral and the bishopric controls the outlet of the only bridge spanning the Loire, on the road between Paris and the south-west of France. The castle also had to control the other gates of the area, the Porte Saint Maur and the Porte d’Arcis. The latter being endowed with a circular tower; which will survive until the middle of the 19C, separated from the farmyard by an outer ditch spanned by a bridge, located on the main urban axis or Grande Rue leading to Chateauneuf to the west and Amboise to East ,through the Porte d’Orléans controlled by the Hugon Tower . The castle was damaged during the struggles between the French king Philip Augustus and the Plantagenets at the end of the 12C; it was intended to ensure the symbolic presence of the new power and the new form of government established in Tours.

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Saint Louis, during the regency of Blanche de Castille restores it and enlarges it in the first half or at the end of the 13C, encompassing the ancient comtal edifice of the 11C and 12C, to turn it into a strong quadrangular Royal site of 2 000 m2. In the 15C, the tower of Guise, which still remains today, sees its coronation redone with machicolations, its floor levels completed, in addition to other developments on the Logis. It was also at this time that Marie d’Anjou would have ordered the construction of a more comfortable, three-story independent building, The new castle of the king, known today as the Logis du Gouverneur , which also borrows the foundations of the Gallo-Roman compound, on the side of the Loire, in the perimeter of the castle’s lower courtyard.

The castle of Tours has its chapel , decorated, and communicates with the residential floor of the 11C, where the Aula , which is heated by 3 chimneys and illuminated by 6 windows. It is sectored, features in addition to the new logis, the farmyard of the old castle, its annexes that occupy the old outer ditch, including a large stable and a shed of coaches, of different periods, and leads into the “grande rue” (current rue Albert-Thomas) where it is necessary to pass to access the castle, through a sculpture gate, and which constitutes more than ever the main artery of the city. The master tower, which controls the entrance and the Loire, has a base in the form of Anti-aries and anti-undercuts, has archers, some of which are later fitted out for firearms and its machicolations allow vertical firing.. The castle, which was above all a royal residence of passage, except a time for Marie d’Anjou and the young dauphin is gradually abandoned by the Kings to the benefit of more hospitable residences of the Loire Valley of the Renaissance.

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On June 24, 1436, Marguerite of Scotland (11 years old) marries, in the Chapel of the castle, the son (13 years old) of King Charles VII, besides duke de Touraine, and of Marie d’Anjou, the future Louis XI of France, before the Archbishop of Reims. Louis XI will be the last king to regularly frequent the Castle of Tours without really living there. After Henry III murdered his father, Henri de Guise, head of the Catholic league,(at Blois) he had the son and his whole family locked up. The young Charles, 15, has been retained for less than 3 years in the master tower of the Château de Tours, at level 4 in the custody of 30 archers. He escaped on August 15, 1591, the day of the assumption after he went to the chapel of the castle to hear the Mass.

In the 17C, the castle of Tours is already very dilapidated. The place was the subject of various uses, as a prison (from the middle of the 15C and, simultaneously, as Arsenal (16C and 17C), to which it was adapted. In this period, the tower of Guise, which serves a time of powder magazine, benefits from major repairs in particular in 1628 and 1647, which do not prevent its general state from continuing to dégrade. The castle then serves as a deposit of begging between 1768 and 1782 and still in prison, although a project of the years 1770-1780 foreseeing the construction of a new prison on the whole of the castle’s right-of-way is finally abandoned. It served as a quarry of stones from 1780, especially for the construction of the quays of the Loire, then for the military barracks. The establishment of the army on the site from the French revolution, reinforced in the Napoleonic era, leads to keep the castle only the emblematic parts still standing and especially the construction of multiple dedicated buildings that will transform its physiognomy and later the whole place. Tours becomes a military region under Napoleon III. Several units will successively hold garrison, thus affirming the vocation of military lodging that had already partially been the castle since the mid-17C.

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Only two towers of the old castle are thus preserved,but hardly renovated. They are connected by a three-story barrack building, probably built around 1781 or near that date known today as the Mars pavilion. The latter is built at the site of the great inner courtyard of the old castle and its enclosure and backed by the ruins of the dilapidated habitable part of the said castle, around the castle thus metamorphosed, acquired by the city of Tours in 1815 for making it a great barracks the first in Tours, many buildings for barracks and stables are erected from 1816, then between 1824 and 1832, connecting among others the castle and the House of the governors,(Logis du gouveneurs) or independently. The whole barracks, which includes the remodelled castle, now connected to the house of the governors, officially takes the name of General Meusnier barracks in 1887, after having been named “de Guise” until then. And later successive from 1826 Cavalry Barracks (3rd Regiment of the Guards of honour, 9th RCT for example), then Infantry from 1845 (32nd RI for example until 1934) and for other military uses, it will last until the years 1960, before the site was returned to the city of Tours in 1968.After WWII, the castle still served as a prison under the Nazi Occupation.

What remains of the Castle of Tours, the house of the Governors included, are truly valued as historical and cultural heritage of the city only since the beginning of the 1980’s, after the archaeological excavations and the clearing of the site. In one of the corners there are in particular the bases of a ten-meters diameter tower that protrudes outside the enclosure wall. This tower that belongs to the 13C castle has replaced an older tower of the 4C the tour Cachot Secrets which can have a better idea with the Gallo-Roman tower which is preserved   adjoining the Bishopric (present Museum of Fine Arts) and the remains of the Tour du petit Cupidon, which constituted the corner of the castrum, respectively. Today there is no more than a central building (the pavilion of Mars) dating back to Louis XVI (18C), bounded by its two cylindrical towers of the 13C, which are the most authentic testimony of what was the royal castle, although the degradations and the many restorations have removed them from their primitive state: The Guise tower, embellished in the 15C, which is the only one to be complete, and the tower Cachot Secrets, of which it is now missing the high-flushed part, probably before the 17C. There is nothing left of the fourth tower that bordered the old castle Thus, the dependencies are currently occupied by the siege of the municipal police of Tours, Place des Turones, accessible from the rue Lavoisier, at the level of the former entrance of the barracks (or by the rue du maures).  All the other dependencies were destroyed. The majority of the place d’Armes is transformed into a parking lot (place des Turones) but the trees that once adorned it always decorate the places.

Now, two museums and two libraries animate the site. The main entrance (pedestrian) is on the Loire, between the castle and the Logis du Gouverneurs or House of the governors, alternatively on the other side by the cours de l’Armorial which has a parking (place des Turones). Access to these museums is free of charge, subject to the opening days..The Museum of Contemporary Art of the Château houses the services of the heritage, exhibitions and international relations of the City of Tours. The history workshop of Tours from 1985 to the House of governors (Logis du Gouverneurs).

The Urban Archaeology Library of Tours is from 1984 to the House of Governors where it was created, the “national Centre of urban archaeology of Tours” (CNAU). The study Library of the Archaeological Society of Touraine; Since 2012, the “archaeological Society of Touraine” (SAT) maintains on the ground floor of the Logis, under the responsibility of a curator-librarian, a study library where the complete collection of its publications is accessible from 1842, who are authoritative in the discipline, and 12 000 specialized books covering prehistory with modern archaeological and heritage history, from Tours to the confines of the Touraine old region.

The city of Tours on the castlehttps://www.tours.fr/services-infos-pratiques/139-chateau.htm 

The Touraine Loire Valley local tourist office on the castlehttps://www.touraineloirevalley.com/patrimoine-culturel/chateau-de-tours-tours/

The Château de Tours on museumshttps://chateau.tours.fr/

The local Loire Valley tourist office on Tourshttps://www.loirevalley-france.co.uk/outings/city-visits/tours-ville-dart-et-dhistoire-heart-loire-valley

There you go folks, another nice thing to see in wonderful Tours ,a city to be visit and revisit. It is a nice castle to see next to the Loire river and very interesting museums. Hope you enjoy the history, one reason I love to travel.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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July 8, 2022

Locronan ,and traditions !!

Traditions with the Bretons is very strong even now, and the legacies of the past are well maintained with their language pushing and the religious beliefs, here strong. One town stands of many on this example. I like to update this older post to talk to you about Locronan in the Finistére dept 29 of lovely Bretagne. A town full of traditions and beautiful architecture not to mention history. Enough for me to love it. Taken the expressway N165 (no tolls) you go to exit D770 and then take the panels saying Locronan on the D39 then D63 to Locronan.  The town  of Locronan is 15 km from Quimper and 5 km from the sea (Atlantic Ocean, Bay of Douarnenez, Kervel beach  which is part of the town of Plonévez-Porzay). It is about 110 km from my house.

The important architectural heritage of Locronan, preserved very early, allowed the village to be a member of the network of Small Cities of Character. Locronan is also today gratified of the label of the Most Beautiful Villages of France. Around the church, the roofs of the village are works of art. From its Belle Epoque, the village has preserved a centrally paved church’s square adorned with a well, the vast Church of St. Ronan, and Renaissance houses in granite.

The Montagne de Locronan (Menez Lokorn in Breton) with its 289 meters of altitude is one of the highest points of the Black Mountain massif characterized by outcroppings of granite on an axis starting from the Pointe de Raz (see post) and going up to Lizio near the moors of Lanvaux.  The place of Plas Ar Horn, at the top of the Priory Mountain, which is backed by Locronan, offers a splendid panorama of the Porzay Plain, the Ménez-Hom and the Bay of Douarnenez (see posts) as a whole.  Its name means “the consecrated place (of the Hermitage) of Saint Ronan”, look meaning consecrated place in Breton. The ancient archives sometimes call Locronan, Saint-René-du-Bois.

A bit of history I like

In Roman times, Locronan was at the crossroads of two Roman routes, one coming from Quimper and heading towards the peninsula of Crozon, the other heading towards Douarnenez. Saint Ronan later installed his hermitage (at the site of the present chapel of the Pénity, adjacent in the Church of Saint-Ronan), which explains the Christianisation of the town. The main square of Locronan is located at the crossroads of two Roman roads as above.

The existence of a church is attested from 1031 because on this date the count of Cornouaille Alain Canhiart donated the Church of Saint-Ronan to the Abbey of St. Croix of Quimperlé following his victory as he would have implored the rescue from Saint Ronan and won against the Duke Alain III of Brittany and known as the “Battle of Ronan” . Later, the Counts of Cornouaille carried a great devotion to Saint Ronan.

The region was Christianized in the 5C  by Saint Ronan, an Irish hermit. The contemporary tradition wants Saint Ronan to travel every day ,the circuit of the petite Troménie, and every Sunday that of the Grand Tromérie. In St. Ronan’s Church, the statue represents him with mitre and lacrosse as a roving abbot or bishop. This is a famous town here, only about 800 inhabitants but famous for its Grande Tromédie (second sunday of July) a religious and historical procession of 12 kms. Locronan is famous for its troménies: The Grand Troménie, a procession that is held around the limits of an ancient sacral space, which has become a Leigh (Tro Leigh, now  “Troménie “), every six years . Between two Grand Troménies takes place annually la Petite Troménie, the 2nd Sunday of July.

As early as the 14C, hemp flourished almost everywhere in the Locronan region. From this production is born an industry of windsurfing, the sails of Locronan would have thus equipped the Invincible Spanish Armada and Shakespeare cites it even in “Coriolanus” (act II, Scene I). It was at this time of prosperity, halted a time by the destructions linked to the Wars of the League as Locronan was looted in 1594 by the Spanish troops, then successively by the war captains  of which belongs  most of the architectural treasures of the granite mansions of the Place de l’église  and the surrounding streets and, of course, the Church of St. Ronan and the small Chapel of the Pénity adjoining it and housing the lying of the Saint (15-16C). Since 1914, there were no more hemp sails artisans in Locronan.

The Place de l’église square, endowed in its center of the old town’s  well, long only source of drinking water of the town, takes its full dimension every second Sunday of July during the Troménies, but even more every six years during the Grande Troménie. The square is lined with 14 granite houses that make up a remarkable architectural ensemble, testifying to the richness of the canvas merchants and other notable people who built them in the 17-18C, including the canvas office and the Hotel de la Compagnie des Indies. The current  rue Moal was the old rue des Tisserants (weavers).

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Things to see in Locronan !

The Church of St. Ronan, (15C), and its Chapel of the Pénity (see posts) where is the tomb of Saint Ronan. The Church was built between 1430 and 1480 by the Lords of the Nevet, with the gifts of the Dukes of Brittany Jean V, Pierre II and François II. The Tomb of Saint Ronan is in the Chapel of the Pénity, built in 1530 by Renée de France, daughter of King Louis XII appended to the Church at the supposed location of his former Hermitage.

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La Place de l’église with its well In curbstone, destroyed in 1932 by a bus, but rebuilt since . The buildings of the Place de l’église date from the 17C and 18C, with the facades of bluish grey granite. The Hôtel Gauthier 16-17C at Place de l’église. The camp des Salles ( halls), referred to as Goarem-ar-Salud an ancienne Carolingian camp.

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The Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nouvelle (15-16-18C), dedicated to Saint Eutrope. The stained glass windows were made in 1985 according to drawings by the painter Alfred Manesser. The Chapel also houses numerous stone statues, including those of the Virgin Mother, the Holy Trinity and a descent of the Cross. Nearby, the Calvary and the fountain, offered by a canvas merchant named Conan, date from 1698. This chapel is mentioned in the Testament of Jean Le Moine of 1439. It constitutes the fifth station of the route of the Grande Troménie.

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The Museum of Art and History, created in 1934, presents the great moments of the history of Locronan on the ground floor (1st Fl US) and a hundred paintings and drawings representing the Finistère on the first floor (2 FL US), as well as the earthenwares of Quimper. On the ground floor, you can discover a real weaving workshop (stage of the Route des canvases de Bretagne). A loom of the 18C is presented there as well as many tools necessary for the textile work of hemp and flax. In the 16C, this was what made the wealth of Locronan. In this space, we also discover the secret of making Breton costumes and the exhibition of some traditional costumes. As for the first floor, almost a hundred paintings  are exhibited alongside some costumes of the Porzay. The paintings represent the attachment of some men to this city and thus constitute the testimony of an artistic life in Brittany at the beginning of the 20C. By the men who frequented it but also its history and its architecture, the Museum of Locronan is an exceptional site to discover.

The Mountain of Locronan, (Menez Lokorn), have exceptional views, and the vitality of the legend of St. Ronan, the undeniable historical interest of the secular tradition of the Troménie, and more. It is a hill located on the towns of Locronan, Quéménéven and Plogonnec, with an altitude of 289 meters, offering  panoramic views  on the Bay of Douarnenez, the Cap de la Chévre and the Ménez-Hom. It houses the Chapel Ar Zonj, dedicated to Saint Ronan, and the chair of Saint Ronan, both constituting stages of the Troménie. Its north face is surrounded  by the bois du duc (duke forest)  while its southern slope is laid out in hedgerow.

The Locronan tourist officehttps://www.locronan-tourisme.bzh/en/

The Finistére dept 29 tourist office on Locronanhttp://www.finisterebrittany.com/locronan

The Bretagne region tourist office on Locronanhttps://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/quimper-cornouaille/locronan/

The Small towns of character in France on Locronanhttps://www.petitescitesdecaractere.com/fr/nos-petites-cites-de-caractere/locronan

The Most Beautiful Villages of France on Locronanhttps://www.les-plus-beaux-villages-de-france.org/fr/nos-villages/locronan/

There you go folks, another dandy in my lovely Bretagne. You can see my other posts on this wonderful traditional town of Locronan ,and see this beauty you won’t regretted, for sure.

And, remember as always, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!! 

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